Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran, Part 30

: Bruce Halloran stares disdainfully at the drive-in movie screen of a television that dominates his living room. He sits on the expansive chocolate brown sofa, Miss Sara Joy clinging to his right hand, and the remains of a full go-cup of expensive neat bourbon. The images from Orlando are, sadly, all too familiar. People screaming, young gay boys running for cover, tear-streaked faces of young sorrow. The death of innocence and altruism. He's seen it before.
He flips between channels, each one broadcasting a steady stream of repeated images and news tickers abalze.

"...we have a lot of information at this hour on this individual. Who he is...he held his weapon legally, we're just now learning. It would appear that the suspect worked as a security guard..."


"--pick-up truck, racing to the scene of that incident, trying to get life-saving aid, to the victims of this massacre. Again, we don't know if this person actually survived the shooting..."


" know, uh, never is that kind of firearm standard issue for a security guard. We know that between two and nine am, he made a 911 call, gave his full name, and made a pledge of allegiance to ISIS--"

"--we do know, from the shooter's father, that he was angered several days ago in Miami when he saw two men kissing. His father says that was the motivation for him to go into this nightclub, Pulse, uh, a well-known gay club in Orlando, uh, and begin shooting his way into this club--"


"We are now getting word of an incident in Santa Barbara. A man has been taken into custody after explosives were allegedly found in the man's car, ahead of the LA Gay Pride Parade. Authorities are saying they have not yet found any connection to the incidents in Orlando last night and early this mornin--"


"And, what they have found, is that there are people, disenfranchised people, uh, troubled people out there who are susceptible to this--to the message that an, an action like this sends. Authorities have known for years about so-called "copycat" attacks. There are people out there who will see this attack, this massacre, and think seriously about doing the same thing."


Just then, the tinny strains of Blondie slurring "I Know What Boys Like" oozes from his cellphone, causing Miss Sara Joy to leap down onto the carpet and take up his usual place beneath the coffee table. The screen is filled with an unattractive picture of Ambrosia, the drag queen he's recently befriended. It usually makes him smile. He taps the screen.

"Hello Ambrosia, whom are you under today?"

"Nobody you've done. Are you watching the news?"

"Yes. When I said I was feeling nostalgic, this wasn't what I had in mind."

Ambrosia snorts a little in response.

Bruce takes another swig of his bourbon, and says with a slight gulp,
"Ah, yes, the good old days. When shooting faggots was all the rage. Better spruce up your closest, ladies. We're goin' back in."

"I've seen your closets. In Japan, that's a boutique hotel."

"HA!" guffaws Halloran, startling Miss Sara Joy. "Give me liberty, or give me closet space! Patricia Henry. What about you, Ambrosia? Got enough room in your closet?"

"Excuse me?" she trills. "I have never had any problems passing."

"I know several barstools that beg to differ."

Ambrosia laughs shrilly, forcing Bruce to pull the phone away from his ear. She calms down. There is a silence that goes on a little too long before Bruce says,
"At least this time around, it's not the cops coming after us."

Stunned by this unexpected moment of sincerity, Ambrosia takes a moment before speaking.

"Well...that's true. But, let's be honest. They're coming for everyone."

"But it's always us. Always! It is always pissy, self-important, soulless zealots that come for us. That hurt us, and kill us. And they always have the same excuse. 'It was God's will.' Leviticus whatever-whatever...blah, blah, blah. pow! Dead. At least now, the funeral homes will take a dead fruit...goddamnit...they've always hated us because we dare to exist. And it's always the same goddamned question--who were they hurting? Who was being harmed by a bunch of gay boys and fag hags in a dance club, ferchrissakes--"

"Halloran! They're terrorists! This is what they do!!"

"Then why weren't they terrorists when they were killing us back then?!?"

He trails off, finishing the rest of the bourbon in a large gulp. He sits for a moment, feeling the burn all the way down to the pit of his stomach. He's gone further than he wanted to go. The hollow of his chest tightens as he remembers all the times he's seen his friends beaten and shot. Things he's kept buried for decades, now demanding to be present. He bites the inside of his lip until the taste of copper begins to fill his tongue. Taking a deep breath, he brings the phone back to his ear.

"...sorry, I...I had to--"

"I know, I know. You had to drink, you old sponge." Ambrosia says, brassily. "Tell ya what, let's make a strike for democracy and fighting ISIS by stepping out tonight for a cocktail. If we don't drink, the terrorists win. My treat."

Now it's Bruce's turn to be momentarily stunned.

"Did I just hear the words "my treat" come out of that filthy mouth of yours?"

"Yes, Virginia, there is a bar tab. Where shall we meet?"

"I'm a lazy queen, just come over to Kajun's. What time were you planning from rising from your crypt?"

"I refuse to be seen before 7pm."

"I'll see you then. And bring your big girl purse, I'm thirsty!"

Bruce stabs the screen triumphantly, ending the call with the last word. He looks back to the screen, still flashing the same footage ad infinitum. He brings up the sound again.

"--but they have focused on the report that he was enraged by gay men recently. We spoke to one of the neighbors in the housing complex where Omar Mateen lived. She told us that there was an apartment where a group of gay men lived, and in recent weeks, the shooter, Mateen, had spent time in that apartment, he was seen coming and going from that apartment in recent days. So, authorities are not certain yet if this is a hate crime or a terrorist act."


Across the city, Avalena Beasley turns off her burner cellphone, and drops it into her purse. Looking up, she stares at herself in the mirror. Right now, she's a middle-aged woman in a middle management position, who works with a hateful, vicious old queen named Bruce Halloran. In four hours, she will be Ambrosia Delight, drag queen of indeterminate age, who's best friend and biggest fan is Bruce Halloran. Carelessly, she pulls a loose strand of graying hair from her face and replaces it behind her ear...This Is My New Orleans.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran, Part 28

: Arriving at his condominium with a snoot-full of liquor from work and a high dudgeon usually reserved for the holiday proper, Bruce Halloran enters the structure on Elysian Fields and St. Claude Avenues with the intent of total chemical inebriation. Carnival is here and Halloran cannot be bothered with any of it. He's too invested in the Carnivals and Mardi Gras of his past to be bothered with the "new" Carnival of the young. He thinks it out loud everytime he looks down upon the youthful revelers on St. Claude beneath his luxurious rooftop garden. Why should he be concerned? He spend his heydays in the bars and other evirons of the city long before these zygotes were even born.
Let them catch up with his memories. Of wild orgies and unexpected encounters with the young men willing to learn. Of the many, many years he marched with the original Society of St. Ann and all those supple, willing young men. Of the Mardi Gras' he had to run from the NOPD when they decided to go after the faggots to "make an example." Gritty, dangerous, lusty, and thoroughly satisfying. Until the world became politically correct and ruined everything.
Halloran sits down in front of his computer to check his email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Something may have happened during his 46 minute trek from the Westbank to home. Might have been important.
"Shit" he says loudly, turning from the computer monitor and walking over to one of the five bars his benefactor Sara Joy left him in his will. Of course the rub of having five bars is that you have to keep them stocked for whenever you feel like drinking. Fortunately he's been diligent in his ministrations and a fresh bottle of Bulleit Bourbon awaits his grasping fingers. Deftly he opens the plastic security wrap on the bottle and withdraws the cork in one fell swoop. Within seconds the gentle but distinctive *splish-splish* of newly decanted alcohol fills the copious rocks glass and is downed in the blinking of an eye. No amateur, Halloran drains the glass of all remnants of Kentucky's Finest and pours a second before the ice can melt to the point of dilution.
Satiated for now, Halloran wanders into the living room and stares inexplicably at the photographs and documents on the ill-fated romance of Phil Tupperman and the good Doctor. Suddenly, the house telephone rings shocking Pitts to his very core. No one calls him in the condo. The only reason he has the number is so he won't have to deal with anyone's calls. Halloran stares inexplicably at the dusty caller ID to discover who's calling him here.
It bears the secret number of his law firm. Specifically the extension of the prickly Master Tschantz. On the third ring he picks up.
"Morty's Mortuary. You stab 'em, we slab 'em" Halloran intones into the receiver, hoping for an incensed reply. In exchange he receives the pained but direct response he should have expected all along.
"Mister Halloran, this is Mr. Tschantz. It's been a very long time since I heard from you."
The boy thinks he's reached a messaging machine. All the better. He listens closely.
"I'm calling you to inform you that the firm has reviewed your case, along with my grandfather. They have decided, after long deliberation that you will require more time to fulfill your commitment to Mr. Pitts' will, according to the laws of the state. In all fairness I do have to say that I and my grandfather were more than happy to cut you off after Carnival, as per the mandates of Mr. Pitts. Still, there is precedent and the firm if following through. I will be contacting  you directly on Ash Wednesday."
Bruce sits back, more than a modicum of safety and frustration setting upon him. He's happy to have the reprieve but struck by the fact that he's had to be told. He both loves and hates young Mr.Tschantz but realizes that he's between a rock and a hard-place.
He goes back to the living room bar and pours himself another drink...This is My New Orleans!